Monday, October 8, 2007


The setting sun marks the end of the first act of this episode, which means this is a good place to take a break. I get a lot of great feedback from you guys and one of the things I hear repeatedly is that people who enjoy reading this comic want more more more! Specifically, you have told me that you would prefer to wait longer in between updates if it means that you can read more pages at one time when the updates are finally done. I can't argue with that -- the comic is written to be read at one sitting, and so at your request this comic will be updated only when I have enough finished material to make it worth your while. Expect the next update to the comic in early 2008. I will give you a more specific date as soon as I know it.

About today's installment
For those of you who aren't total cartoon geeks like me and Crane, you can hear a clip of the music he is talking about here. This is the opening and closing music for the Yogi Bear Show. You have to sit through a few seconds of the opening music to get to the clip that Crane is referring to. I hope you like it and that it triggers some distant childhood memory. I know cartoons don't play the same role in everybody's childhood that they did in mine, but what can I say? My childhood was clearly better. Now go play the song and picture the Fire Island sunset fading to black. The Michaels will return in a few months with more obscure Gen-X pop culture references and wide-eyed cartoon characters engaged in sex, drugs and profanity.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ed Benedict

Early Hanna-Barbera cartoons have had a big influence on my drawing style. I had assumed that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera designed their own classic characters, but they didn't. This amazing cartoonist named Ed Benedict designed most of them, including the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, and Huckleberry Hound. Ed's characters incorporated design concepts you still see in cartoons today: The delineated beard growth on Homer Simpson and the stubby hind legs that anthropomorphic dogs and cats chase each other with are evident in the earliest sketches Ed made for H-B way back in the fifties.

To celebrate my new discovery of this old pro I wanted to show you a tribute to his creations from another hero of the cartooning world, John Kricfalusi. John K is best known as the creator of Ren & Stimpy. He now runs a blog dedicated to the craft of animation and is often quoted in articles about Ed. In fact, Ed is listed as layout artist in the opening credits of this short. Check it out:

A Day in the Life of Ranger Smith

You can see some of Ed's original sketches of Fred, Barney, and Yogi Bear at John's blog. This particular article is one I have studied heavily to help me understand what is working and not working in my own cartoons.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New comic! Yay!

We just got back from a very nice weekend visiting our friends upstate. So, while I do have a comic update for you, I unfortunately didn't have time to write too much in my blog. But you'd rather see new cartoons, right? Good, that's what I figured. More next week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Did you miss me?

It didn't take long for me become what I dreaded most - a web cartoonist who devotes half his blog posts to apologizing for never updating his comic. Maybe I can look at that as a milestone?

I had a great summer at Fire Island (Um... doing research for my comic...) during which I was able to hear Rihanna intone UMBRELLA ELLA ELLA five hundred gazillion times -- about twice as many times that Nicole from the The Pussycat Dolls asked me if I wished my girlfriend was hot like her only two summers earlier.

Now summer is over and I will console myself by spending as much time as possible inside Cartoon Fire Island until another cold wet New York winter breaks and my housemates and I can start fretting over our schedule again.

Speaking of Cartoon Fire Island, check out this Family Guy clip. That's right, I'm sending you to some other Fire Island cartoon because I have nothing else to say about my own. I'll be back next Monday with more hi-jinx, though. Now g'wan, get outta here. Scoot.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost there

Chris and I are catching a train at Penn Station in less than an hour so I will make this posting short and sweet. My season at Actual Fire Island is winding down and I will now have more time to work on Cartoon Fire Island and to updating this site on a regular basis, starting September 17.

See you then!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Haitus Report

June is coming to a close and I realize that I won’t be able to update the comic for a few more weeks. The good news is that I am, in fact, working on It’s the Michaels. Currently I am toiling over an elaborate background. My approach to drawing is to create one or two pages with detailed backgrounds, and then alternate those pages with ones that have either no background or a repeated background. This is a great idea in theory; however I have misjudged how long it takes me to draw some of the scenes. In addition, I didn’t account for the fact that the opening of the story is heavy on establishing shots to give the audience a better feel for the world the Michaels live in.

I will begin updating the web site again on a regular basis as soon as I have several completed pages, so that the next time I find myself behind schedule because of a complex background, I can fall back on a supply of completed pages. As always, you can send me a note if you want to be added to the mailing list so that you can be notified when new cartoons are added. Thank you to everybody who has continued to check in regularly, hoping that you will finally be rewarded with a new cartoon. That day is coming soon. I swear!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

After these messages (we'll be right back)

The time has come for me to take a brief hiatus from the Michaels so I can focus on my regular web design work - the work that actually pays the bills. This is my first break but will not be my last.

When I am able to turn my attention back to It's the Michaels I will wait until I have a small cushion of new strips built up before I start posting them again. The next installment will probably come in June, but exactly when in June is hard to say. If you would like to be notified when the installments start up again, please email me a request and I will add you to the Michaels Mailing List.

Many thanks to all of you who check this site regularly for updates. I am sorry for this interruption but I believe working this way gives you a better experience than if I focused on the weekly deadlines at the expense of the quality of the comic.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Web publishing

I hope you like this update because the backgrounds took me a long time, which is why today's installment is just a single page again. Sorry - but see how pretty? Soooo pretty! Pretty pretty trees.

I originally envisioned It's the Michaels as a print comic and paced it like a TV show. Publishing it as a web comic has allowed me to change it from something I want to do into something that I am doing: It's present tense, and the upside for me is the small dose of immediate gratification I get posting a comic online a few hours after it's complete.

The web comic format has provided me with an interesting challenge: I need to tell the story so that it breaks down into one- or two- page increments with natural stopping points. I often find the pacing less than optimal. I am anxious to get to certain points in the story, but when the final comic is printed into a book it will hopefully read better because of the changes I made to accommodate the web format. In the meantime, thanks to all of you who have been sticking with me week after week - through the four-page updates and the single-page updates. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy tax day

About today's installment

Ta-da! It's the first group shot of all the Michaels. In real life their heights would be as follows: Lacey is 6'5": bigger than everybody. Crane is 6'2". That's how tall my boyfriend is, so that is, to my mind, the most handsome height to be. Connor, Bryce, Stuart, and Jason are all of average height: about 5'10". Toomey is somewhere between 5'2" and 5'6". He's the star so he gets to be the shortest. That sounds backwards but look at the third panel and you will see how Toomey fits neatly under a speech balloon while Crane's face falls slightly above eye level.

The way these "real life" heights translate into cartoon heights is flexible. When I show people having a conversation the height differences will be minimized so they fit neatly in frame. At other times I will exaggerate the height differences for dramatic or comedic effect. You would call this cheating but I call it cartoonist license because cartoonist license implies that I know what I'm doing and not just making it up as I go along.

Monday, April 2, 2007


Chris and I are going out of town Thursday for a long weekend, so the next update after today will be Monday, April 16 at the soonest.

But enough about me. Check this out: The long-dormant blog run by the owners of the Pavilion is all a-buzz with activity. Most interesting is that they have an updated picture of the Pavilion renovation that you can see here.

In addition, it seems that a reality show about the Pines staff will be shot next summer and they are currently looking for applicants.

Lastly, they have officially announced that grocery shoppers in the Pines will now be able to buy Citarella products at A Fresh Market, and new store opening up in one of the new retail spaces in the Pavilion building. This is significant since up until now there has been only one grocery store in the Pines, The Pines Pantry.

You can read about all of this in more detail on The Pavilion Blog.

About today's installment

When I showed today's installment to Chris he thought something was off about the house and told me to "add something to it, like a tree." He was right: The house is supposed to be in a wooded area, but it looked like it was sitting in the middle of a field.

I framed the foreground with leaves and now it looks a lot more like an actual Fire Island house. You can see before and after examples below. (Click to enlarge.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

You draw that yourself?

In answer to the many inquiries I have received about my process for creating It's the Michaels, here is a short overview.

Episode structure
You may notice that I refer to each update to the story as an installment. That's because it's not an episode. If you look at the bottom left corner of every page in the cartoon you will see that these installments are all part of Episode 101 (Season 1, Episode 01). When completed, Episode 101 will have approximately 80 pages. Season 1 will comprise about 6 episodes, each taking place during a different weekend of the summer. How many seasons will there be? I can't say because as the overall story evolves it may change. I can tell you that there will be a bridge episode in between each season that will take place from September to May. These will be fun for me because the setting and time span will be very different from the regular episodes.

Step 1
On to the drawing process: Episode 101 has already been written from start to finish and drawn out as pencil roughs. This pencil rough draft is where I being when I draw a new installment. So for all my cartoons, Step 1 is complete before I start: I have a pencil rough that gives me the dialog and basic composition.

Step 2

The final drawing starts out the way you think it would: as a pencil sketch. Using the rough draft as a basic guide, I make final pencil drawings of the characters and any props they have.

Step 3

I trace the pencil drawings with a pen onto a new piece of paper and scan the pen drawings into the computer.

Step 4

The drawings are combined in Photoshop where I piece them together to form the final layout and I add the dialog. I don't hand-letter any of the text. I use a font called Alter Ego.


Backgrounds are created a little differently. I will explain that process in a future posting.

About today's installment

Here's what I didn't really pull off in this cartoon that I wanted to: What you are supposed to notice when you first meet these two guys on pages 7 and 8 is their height difference. Then - and here's the funny part - You realize that they are actually the same height! One of them was just wearing platform heels the whole time! And he's a boy! Get it? Hysterical!

The reason it didn't work out was that Bryce also has a feather boa wrapped around his arms that needs to stay to below frame until the reveal. So I can't have him high enough in the frame to convey a real height difference between him and Connor. And even if I did - exactly how high are these platform heels supposed to be? I'm still happy with the overall scene even though the joke doesn't play out the way I wanted it to.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Quick update

This is just a short note to let you know that you can expect the next installment of It's the Michaels to go up on Monday. It might go up sooner, but when does anything ever happen ahead of schedule?

If you would like to be notified every time a new installment is ready, send a message to and I will add you to the Michaels Mailing List.

Monday, March 19, 2007

First update! Yay!

Talking about Roxy is so last week but I'm going to do it anyway. Two interesting articles were printed about it. One was in the New York Times, and in it John Blair reveals that Roxy's patrons were rated 1 - 4, with 4s being the beautiful people and celebrities who got in for free. The straight and the ugly, meanwhile, were lumped together into the 1 category.

The Village Voice had an interesting piece that discussed Roxy's significance in the history of New York's club culture, citing its 1991 opening as a revitalization of gay nightlife.

You can read the Times article here and the Voice article here.

About today's installment

Just in case you weren't overwhelmed memorizing four new people in the first installment, here are two more. Are you taking notes?

The house exterior seen here is based on the house my friends and I rent out each summer. This is done out of necessity so I have a real-life example when I draw backgrounds. The kitchen, however, is completely made up, save the water cooler in the background. This is how our kitchen might look if Ty Pennington stopped by with his megaphone and a few friends.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Live into that

"Live into that" is the advice my friend Sean dispenses when I call him up panicked that my comic will never see the light of day. He means that I should not focus on the immense pile of work yet to be done, but instead define my goals and then decide what I can start doing today to get there tomorrow. It's an actionable approach to living one's dream, and - I'm just going to say it - being a cartoonist has always been my dream.

So here it is! My goal is to update this comic weekly, but I set that goal knowing that it will depend heavily on my workload. I am instead going to "live into" working on my comic at least once a week and updating the blog at least twice a week, and I will see how often that produces comic updates. As with many cartoonists, my work is a labor of love, not profit.

About today's installment

Page 1 is my favorite of the batch, largely because I drew it last so it's newer to me. But I also think the layout and Toomey's pose are pretty eye-catching.

Page 2 was by far the hardest for me to draw. It took about as long as all the other pages combined. I wanted people familiar with the Pines Harbor to recognize it immediately, but I took a lot of license to fit all the elements into one frame without making the figures too small.

Pages 3-5 introduce a lot of the cast. I crammed many names into very few frames but don't sweat it - you have plenty of time to figure out who is who.

About Sean
My friend Sean is no stranger to web comics himself. You can check out his work at Sean's work is very adult, by which I mean erotic. Sean approaches sexuality the way he approaches all aspects of his life, infusing his comic with the same love of life and positive energy that got me through so many mini-meltdowns.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Live! From New York!

It's my web comic! This is what we in the web biz call a soft launch. The web site is live but I've only told a few people about it. As of this writing I plan to add a title page and then add some background people to the opening scenes. But I am driving enough traffic here that I wanted the people kind enough to check in to have some indication that the site is, for all intents and purposes, live. The official launch date is only a few days away, and will be marked by a massive email to just about everyone I know. I will also be linking here through a series of super-redundant profiles on various social networking sites. Then all of those profiles will also link to each other, so people can read the same three exciting facts about me and my comic in many different places.

For what it's worth, tonight is the Last Dance at Roxy. It seems like only yesterday I was lamenting the last dance at Pavilion. Where does the time go?